A bartender with a vision

You just got back from the world championships in Puerto Rico. Did any prize "drop"? Yes, I can really brag a little (laughs). I got third place with a cocktail. I am very satisfied with my performance, but I am not satisfied with the fact that the ecumenical Fr

You just got back from the world championships in Puerto Rico. Did any prize "fall"?

Yes, I can really brag a little (laughs). I got third place with a cocktail. I am very satisfied with my performance, but I am not satisfied with the fact that the world organization treated us like some small country, so I also returned home disappointed. I finished seventeenth overall.

When did you mix your first cocktail and when did the bottles start flying through the air?

I mixed my first cocktail six years ago when I was working in a bar. My boss at the time, Draga Mihovec, was one of the most disgusting, but I learned a lot from her. But the breakthrough was a show I saw on the website that featured a bartending program from Las Vegas. At that time I said to myself: this is it; I quit college, I gave up cooking, and I completely surrendered flair.

What is flair?

Flair is the attraction in the bar. The word comes from freestyle. It's about the bartender animating people with his imagination.

What is more important in flair: a good cocktail or a good show?

The most important thing is that both are at their peak; then you are a winner. Otherwise, a good cocktail is more important, because in the end we sell cocktails and not the show.

You are a six-time national champion. What does your training look like, is it mainly throwing and catching bottles or do you also "train" mixing cocktails?

For the past five years, I've let myself go flair and I train every day for an average of six or seven hours. Training is mixing and throwing drinks and shakers, as well as learning about bar equipment. The most important thing is to get a feel for the space and how the bottle and shaker behave in the air. I practice at Kodeljevo Castle, where I have a small room. I also train just mixing drinks, but with water. This is mainly about getting a feel for the measuring cup and being able to accurately measure the drink without a measuring cup. This is the greatest art that classic bartenders do not use. I really don't understand why they have scoops because they look stupid.

Bottles and glasses fly at your shows like a joke. How many injuries, broken glasses and interesting adventures have there been?

There was a lot of damage. The first year, my toes suffered, as I trained in flip-flops or barefoot, not knowing how common it is to drop a bottle from two meters. I hurt my wrist or elbow a few times trying to stop or hit the bottle. One adventure happened at a friend's wedding when I had to do a show unannounced. When I threw the bottle behind my back, it flew to a girl who was holding a glass of wine in her hand and admiring my performance. The result was a wet suit, but luckily no injuries. A friend had a performance in a shopping center and the bottle slipped out of his hands so awkwardly that he even broke a large glass. Fortunately, there were no injuries here either.

Let's move on to cocktails. Who dictates the guidelines of what will be drunk?

The guidelines today are primarily dictated by the British, followed by the French. America gave the greatest stamp to cocktails in history. That's where the first cocktail came from, which was made purely "by accident" in a pub where a cockfight was taking place, and that's how the name cocktail came about, which comes from the cock's tail. The rooster's tail was also the first decoration on cocktails. Although the cocktail was born in America and the first guidelines were set there, eventually mass production began and as a result the cocktails were of poor quality, so today the top and trendiest cocktails are drunk in Europe.

What is the difference between the most "in" cocktail ten years ago and today?

In the beginning, cocktails were simple and very similar to what today's guidelines point to: it's a simple alcoholic base with non-alcoholic. In the intervening period there was a whole flood of syrups and liqueurs, colored drinks and mixed alcohol. Today, simple drinks, fresh fruit, mint are once again in trend, but above all quality is in trend. These easy drinks are coming back: cranberry juice with vodka, rum with Coca-Cola, rum with pineapple, gin with tonic and fresh pickle, ... There are no more cocktails containing more than three ingredients. In my bar, we don't have any syrups and liqueurs, they have been replaced by fresh fruit, mint, lime, pickles,...

In order for the guests to have fun and for your show to be interesting to them, you probably have to be fun, attractive,... What are the qualities of a good bartender?

Unfortunately, visual appearance still counts a lot in bartending. The bartender must be smiling and friendly. Attractiveness is important; a good bartender has to put all of himself into his show to be noticed. In order to be able to sell a product, communication is the most important thing. If this is not present, neither attractiveness nor a good cocktail will help.

You are a chef by profession. From a connoisseur's point of view, can you tell us about the connection between food and cocktails? This absolutely does not go together or maybe there are some interesting combinations?

Of course, food and cocktails go together, but none of the restaurateurs dare to show it. A thoughtful evening with ten courses of food based solely on cocktails would be great. At each course, they serve a different cocktail, but all of them have the same alcoholic base. We will prepare such an evening. We found a young chef Tadej from the restaurant Taju, who is ready to cooperate. Where does it say that a red steak should only go with a glass of red wine and that wine is the only thing that prepares the mouth for the next dish? For example, a gin and tonic cleans the mouth perfectly during a meal, and a fruit cocktail is the finishing touch to a good dinner. I won't say more, soon you will be able to see food with cocktails in the evenings...


In twenty years, do you still see yourself throwing bottles and entertaining people at a loud party?

In twenty years I will be sitting in a chair watching others throw bottles and control the situation. I am definitely not building my story on myself alone, which would be utopia. I will be attractive for another three or four years. I would like to be the initiator of global development in Slovenia, run a high-quality school and educate.

Where most people come to relax, you come to work. Do you ever need a break from loud music, a show, a crowd...?

Of course I need a break. And not so much from people as from the constant lack of time and overwork. Lately, lying in front of the TV and swimming have been the most relaxing for me. Otherwise, I like to travel and enjoy the most when I leave my phone at home and "disconnect". The greatest relaxation and pleasure is cocktail catering on the field. That's when I really forget everything. You go and they pay you to be wild. Mega!

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Ales Prestor

"The greatest pleasure is cocktail catering in the field: you go and they pay you to be wild. Mega!"

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